By Gene Phelps
Special to the Gazette
INGOMAR – Ingomar senior forward Kelon Hall asked sophomore post player Zach Shugars for some 32-minute insurance in Saturday’s postseason game against West Bolivar.
Shugars came through for his teammate. He scored 10 of his game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Falcons to a dominating finish and 49-34 victory in the second round of the MHSAA Class 2A state tournament.
“I looked at Kelon at the start of the fourth quarter and he said, ‘Give me a chance to play another 32 minutes,’’’ Shugars said. “I said, ‘I got you.’ I had to turn it on.”
Ingomar (32-4) advanced to Tuesday’s state tournament quarterfinal game – those cherished 32 extra minutes – at Calhoun City.
Shugars’ play in the final five minutes against West Bolivar drew praise from Falcons coach Jonathan Ashley.
“Shugars finally got himself going in there,” Ashley said. “It was a tough go for a long time. A lot of kids would pack it in. Zach found a way to get himself going. He had a pretty good night in the last five minutes.”
West Bolivar tied the score at 34-34 three minutes into the fourth quarter. Ingomar answered with a 15-0 run to close it out.
A short baseline jumper by Nathan Weeden started the scoring spurt. Shugars then connected on mid-range jumper with 4:26 remaining. He added a runner in the lane with 2:59 showing to give Ingomar a 40-34 lead.
A heads-up defensive play and layup by guard Hunter Bynum pushed that lead to 42-34.
West Bolivar’s extended zone defense gave caused Ingomar to struggle in the first half. The Falcons led after a low-scoring first half, 22-14.
“They are just that good on defense,” Ashley said. “They’re long, athletic, quick and their zone was extended. It gave us fits trying to get what we wanted out of it.”
Clayton Stanford added 11 points for Ingomar. West Bolivar (21-10) was led by Markell Petro with 11. Their post player, Jacorian Toliver, scored eight before fouling out.